SPECIES: Juniperus communis

INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:

Tirmenstein, D. 1999. Juniperus communis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

ABBREVIATION:

JUNCOM

SYNONYMS:

Juniperus communis spp. alpina (Smith) Celakovsky [135]
Juniperus communis ssp. nana (Willd.) Syme [64]

NRCS PLANT CODE:

JUCO6
JUCOD
JUCOM
JUCOM2

COMMON NAMES:

common juniper
dwarf juniper
prostrate juniper
mountain common juniper
old field common juniper
ground juniper

TAXONOMY:

The currently accepted scientific name of common juniper is Juniperus communis L. (Cupressaceae) [45,47,54,67,135,136,]. A number of varieties have been described. At least 150 common names, based primarily on the naming of clones as varieties, have been given to common juniper [48]. Commonly recognized North American varieties include:

Juniperus communis var. depressa Pursh [33,47,67,103,136,137]
Juniperus communis var. megistocarpa Fern & St. John [67,108]
Juniperus communis var. montana Ait. [67]

LIFE FORM:

Shrub, tree

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:

No special status

OTHER STATUS:

Common juniper is listed as a species of state concern in South Carolina [119]. Juniperus communis var. depressa is state-ranked as extremely rare in Virginia [133].


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:

Common juniper is possibly the most widely distributed tree in the world [78]. This circumboreal species occurs across North America, Europe, northern Asia and Japan [78,88]. Common juniper is almost completely circumpolar within the exception of a gap in the Bering Sea region [65]. It is widespread in North America beyond the northern limit of trees, occurring from western Alaska and British Columbia to Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland [78,88]. Common juniper extends southward through New England to the Carolinas and westward through northeastern Illinois, Indiana, northern Ohio, Minnesota, and Nebraska to the western mountains of Washington, California, Arizona, and New Mexico [47,56,78,88].

Distribution of North American varieties is as follows [47,56,78,88,136,63]:

Juniperus communis var. depressa northeastern North America, Idaho, Montana, the Great Plains, and Great Basin; found up to the low arctic in eastern North America

Juniperus communis var. montana high-northern latitudes, circumboreal [45]

ECOSYSTEMS:

FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

STATES:
AK AZ CA CO CT ID IN IA IL ME
MA MI MN MT NV NH NJ NM NY NC
ND NE OH OR PA RI SC SD UT VA
VT WA WI WV WY
 
AB BC LB MB NB NF NT NS ON PE
PQ SK YT

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K001 Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest
K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K022 Great Basin pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalograss
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K081 Oak savanna
K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce-fir forest
K097 Southeastern spruce-fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K110 Northeastern oak-pine forest

SAF COVER TYPES:

1 Jack pine
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce-tamarack
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
19 Gray birch-red maple
35 Paper birch-red spruce-balsam fir
45 Pitch pine
107 White spruce
109 Hawthorn
110 Black oak
111 South Florida slash pine
201 White spruce
202 White spruce-paper birch
204 Black spruce
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
208 Whitebark pine
209 Bristlecone pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
219 Limber pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon-juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
248 Knobcone pine
249 Canyon live oak
251 White spruce-aspen
252 Paper birch
253 Black spruce-white spruce
254 Black spruce-paper birch
256 California mixed subalpine

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
216 Montane meadows
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
902 Alpine herb
904 Black spruce-lichen
907 Dryas
912 Low scrub shrub birch-ericaceous
916 Sedge-shrub tundra
920 White spruce-paper birch

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:

Common juniper is an indicator in a number of forest and shrubland habitat types and community types. It grows as an understory dominant with ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), limber pine (P. flexilis), white fir (Abies concolor), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), white spruce (P. glauca), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), blue spruce (Picea pungens), whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), subalpine fir (A. lasiocarpa), or Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (P. aristata).

Common associates in northern Utah include common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), gooseberry currant (Ribes montigenum), Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens), hairy telegraphplant (Heterotheca villosa), timber milkvetch (Astragalus miser), silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus), Thurber fescue (Festuca thurberi), elk sedge (Carex geyeri), and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) [84,90]. Common juniper is listed as a codominant indicator species in the following classifications:

Old-growth forests of the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks [1]
Forest vegetation on National Forests in the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Regions: habitat and community types [4]
Forest vegetation of the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming: a habitat type classification [5]
Classification of the forest vegetation on the National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico [6]
The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification [49]
Preliminary forest habitat types of the Uinta Mountains, UT [51]
Forested plant associations of the Olympic National Forest [52]
Forest vegetation of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in central Colorado: a habitat type classification [53]
Forest vegetation of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming: a habitat type classification [57]
Forest vegetation of the Routt National Forest in northwest Colorado: a habitat type classification [58]
Forest vegetation of the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming: a habitat type classification [59]
Forest vegetation of the Gunnison and parts of the Uncompahgre National Forests: a preliminary habitat type classification [72]
Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of northern New Mexico and northern Arizona [74]
Field guide for forested plant associations of the Wenatchee National Forest [76]
Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah [84]
Aspen community types of the Intermountain Region [89]
Aspen community types of Utah [90]
A forest habitat type classification of southern Arizona and its relationship to forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico [91]
Forest habitat types of Montana [100]
Forest habitat types of central Idaho [122]
Coniferous forest habitat types of central and southern Utah [138]
Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming [139]
Classification and gradient analysis of forest vegetation of Cape Enrage, Bic Park, Quebec [140]


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE:

The wood of common juniper is fine grained, durable, and reddish with white sapwood [123]. This wood currently has no commercial value.

IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:

Wild ungulates generally eat only trace amounts of common juniper. Deer and mountain goats browse common juniper to at least a limited extent in some areas including Wyoming and Montana [10,35,41,43,55,93,95,111,134]. Levels of use are typically greatest during the winter or early spring. Common juniper can be important winter mule deer food during some years in parts of the Black Hills [29,43,95,99]. It is also used consistently through the winter months by white-tailed deer in the Swan Valley of Montana [92,93]. Caribou have been observed feeding on common juniper after fire [12]. Moose feed on common juniper "sparingly" in northern Michigan [94]. It also receives some light summer use by mountain goats in Montana [111]. In northern Canada, barren-ground caribou browse "fairly often" on common juniper where lichen growth is poor [69]. Hares browse common juniper in parts of Ontario where use may range from low to high [26].

Domestic livestock rarely utilize common juniper. The foliage may be poisonous to domestic goats, although livestock in parts of Europe have reportedly been fed sprays of common juniper with no ill effects [131].

Cones of most junipers are eaten by many species of birds and mammals. Numerous animals, including the American robin and black-capped chickadee, feed on the cones of common juniper whenever they are available. American robins frequently consume large numbers of cones during the spring and fall [101]. In eastern Ontario, cones provide food for cedar and Bohemian waxwings [20]. Wild turkeys also feed on cones of common juniper [27].

 

PALATABILITY:

The palatability of common juniper to livestock and wildlife species in several western states has been rated as follows [32,55]:

                   CO     MT     ND     SD     UT     WY
Cattle             poor   poor   poor   ----   poor   poor
Sheep              poor   poor   poor   ----   poor   poor
Horses             poor   poor   poor   ----   poor   poor
Pronghorn          ----   ----   poor   ----   poor   poor
Elk                ----   poor   ----   ----   fair   poor
Mule deer          poor   fair   fair   ----   fair   good
White-tailed deer  ----   poor   poor  low-med ----   fair
Small mammals      ----   ----   fair   ----   good   good
Small nongame birds----   ----   good   ----   good   poor
Upland game birds  ----   ----   good   ----   good   fair
Waterfowl          ----   ----   ----   ----   poor   good
NUTRITIONAL VALUE:

Common juniper is rated as poor in overall protein and energy value [32]. Nutritional value of common juniper in South Dakota was reported as follows [43]:

                     Oct. 1   Jan. 2  April 1 July 1
                     ------   ------  ------- ------ 
Moisture (%)         50.27    43.48   43.81   66.13  
Carotene (g/g)      56.63    16.30   52.08   57.88
Ash (%)               1.41     1.65    2.00    1.38
Crude fat (%)         6.07     7.51    7.16    4.12
Crude fiber (%)      11.28    15.50   12.70    9.51 
Crude protein (%)     4.22     3.30    2.85    3.53
N-free extract (%)   26.75    28.56   31.49   15.35
Phosphorus (%)        0.087    0.081   0.12    0.07
Calcium (%)           0.36     0.85    0.67    0.25 
Iron (ppm)*          94.97    91.02   92.68   40.49
Manganese (ppm)*     43.62    58.82   80.19   45.98
*parts per million

Foliar nutrient levels are as follows [15]:

% oven-dry weight
N     0.91
P     0.12
K     0.42
Ca    1.20
Mg    0.17
ppm      
Al    119
B     15
Cu    3.3
Fe    142
Mn    253
Mo    7.2
Zn    17
In Canada, nutrient value of common juniper cones was as follows [27]:
Dry          Crude         Crude    Crude
matter (%)   protein (%)   fat(%)   fiber
72.2         3.7           14.3     22.1  
COVER VALUE:

The shade and cover value of common juniper tends to be greatest for birds and small mammals. It provides especially good nesting cover for Merriam's wild turkeys in the Black Hills of South Dakota [59,110]. In New Jersey, it provides winter roosts for short-eared owls [17]. In the Northwest Territories, common juniper branches are used in woodrat nests [112].

The cover value of common juniper for wildlife species has been rated as follows [32]:

                     CO     MT     ND     UT     WY
Pronghorn            ----   ----   ----   poor   poor
Elk                  ----   ----   ----   poor   fair
Mule deer            ----   poor   good   fair   fair
White-tailed deer    ----   poor   good   ----   fair
Small mammals        fair   ----   ----   good   good
Small nongame birds  fair   ----   good   good   good
Upland game birds    ----   ----   ----   good   good
Waterfowl            ----   ----   ----   poor   poor
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:

Common juniper has low value for short-term rehabilitation projects but moderate to high value for long-term rehabilitation projects. It is useful in preventing soil erosion [32]. Houle and Babeux [63] report that common juniper has potential for restoration in the Canadian arctic and subarctic.

Dietz and others [30] attempted to reestablish common juniper on old burns and on open ponderosa pine sites in the Black Hills. Best results were obtained with bareroot stock planted during late April. Attempts at hand seeding under greenhouse conditions were largely unsuccessful. 

 

OTHER USES AND VALUES:

Common juniper was used by Native Americans of the Great Basin as a blood tonic [88]. Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest used tonics made from the branches to treat colds, flu, arthritis, muscle aches, and kidney problems [130]. Cones were used by the southern Kwakiutl of British Columbia for treating stomach ailments and wood or bark was used to treat respiratory problems [129]. The Interior Salish used cones to make medicines for a variety of ailments [130]. Eurasians made tonics from common juniper for kidney and stomach ailments, and rheumatism [88,130]. Common juniper contains a volatile oil, terpinen-4-ol, which is known to increase kidney action [130]. Common juniper extract, which can be fatal in even fairly small amounts, was used to make gin and as a meat preservative [88].

Common juniper is highly valued as an ornamental [44]. It is widely cultivated and provides good ground cover even on stony or sandy sites [7,48,101]. This species was first cultivated in 1560 [66].

 

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

Common juniper generally appears to increase in response to grazing [19,102]. Butler [19] observed highest relative common juniper cover in stands heavily grazed by cattle in green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) draws of the North Dakota badlands as follows:

 
Density Relative Foliar Relative
(stems/m2) density cover (%) cover
lightly grazed* 0.01 0.02 0.59 0
moderately grazed 0.01 0.23 2.15 3
heavily grazed 0.07 0.11 2.40 5
*sites were classified by the number of trails, extensiveness of lounging areas and distance from water into moderate and heavily grazed.


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

Common juniper is a native, evergreen shrub or columnar tree [78,136]. Throughout most of North America, common juniper most often grows as a low, decumbent mat-forming shrub reaching up to 4.9 feet (1.5 m) in height and 7.6 to 13.1 feet (2-4 m) across [47,123]. In parts of New England common juniper occasionally grows up to 25 feet (7.6 m) in height, and a treelike growth form is reportedly common in Europe [78]. Height at maturity can range from 2 to 50 feet (0.6-15.3 m) [66]. At polar limits, common juniper grows as a dwarf shrub in forest tundra [65].

The bark of common juniper is thin, shreddy or scaly, often exfoliating into thin strips [56,123]. Twigs tend to be yellowish or green when young but turn brown and harden with age [47,123]. Leaves are simple, stiff and arranged in whorls of 3 [56,123]. Younger leaves tend to be more needlelike whereas mature leaves are scalelike [88].

Male strobili are sessile or stalked, and female strobili are made up of green, ovate or acuminate scales [123]. Berrylike cones are red at first, ripening to a glaucous bluish-black [66].

Morphological characteristics including growth form differ somewhat according to variety. General botanical characteristics by variety are as follows [56,75,123,136]:

Juniperus communis var. depressa - rarely greater than 3 feet (1 m) tall
Juniperus communis var. montana A- low, trailing, mat-forming shrub, stems freely branched, usually less than 3 feet (0.9 m) tall

Individuals can live for more than 170 years [31].

RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:

Phanerophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:

Common juniper is typically dioecious but occasionally monoecious [128]. Seed usually matures during the second growing season [56,123,126,136], although there have been some reports of cones maturing within only one season [128].

Common juniper produces large cone crops at irregular intervals [66]. Cones are ovoid to ellipsoid [123] and contain 1 to 3 seeds [56,128]. Germination rates for common juniper seed are relatively poor and defective seed may also be relatively common. Pack [97] reported that up to 60% of common juniper seeds examined were defective. In northwestern Quebec, the majority of seeds produced by "older" plants (94.8%) were non-viable. A majority of seeds produced by "younger" plants (80%) were viable. Approximately 40 to 60% of "older" plants were sterile [31]. Under harsh conditions, female plants may decrease reproductive efforts and less viable seed is produced [83].

Germination and seedling establishment of common juniper is "difficult" [31,60]. Ideal germination conditions are moist, compact soil with sufficient oxygen diffusion [31]. Germination has been reported to range from 7 to 75%, depending on the specific treatment and seed source [66].

Juniper seeds have a semipermeable and thick seedcoat with a dormant embryo [97]. Common juniper seed requires a period of warm temperatures followed by a period of cold temperatures lasting approximately 7 months [31]. Generally the germination rate of seeds that are not afterripened is only around 1% [97]. High temperatures, alternating temperatures, freezing and thawing, removal of the seedcoat, or the application of hydrogen peroxide, dilute acids, carbon dioxide, or light had little influence on the germination of juniper seeds.

Steele and Geier-Hayes [121] report that common juniper seed is dispersed by animals and not stored in the soil. However, Major and Pyott [80] report that common juniper seed persists in cropped soils in California. Seeds of common juniper are dispersed by gravity, water, birds, or mammals. Digestive processes apparently do not harm most juniper seeds and may actually enhance germination [8,37]. Birds are the most important dispersal agents of common juniper [31]. More than 60 to 85% of common junipers present in the sand dune region surrounding Lake Michigan are believed to have originated from bird-disseminated seed. Birds also contribute to the spread of common juniper into old fields of New England [101]. Rosen [109] reports that domestic sheep may also serve as a dispersal agent since junipers are often associated with sheep driveways. Strong winter winds can push seeds across frozen snow cover [109].

Increases observed in seedling numbers during certain periods are the result of favorable conditions for establishment. Establishment is more likely in open spaces between older shrubs and may be favored by grazing [109].

Common juniper does not sprout after foliage is removed. However, adventitious root development can occur when branches come in contact with the ground become buried. In the subarctic, plants are often buried at least partially, and production of adventitious roots may aid in water and nutrient intake. A higher proportion of common juniper cuttings from northern populations rooted as compared with southern cuttings. Cuttings from female shrubs may exhibit better rooting potential than cuttings from male plants [63].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:

Common juniper can grow on a wide range of sites. It grows on dry, open, rocky, wooded hillsides, sand terraces, maritime escarpments, and on exposed slopes and plateaus throughout its range [18,31,47,50,123]. Common juniper grows along dunes or on dune heath in coastal areas of the Northeast and inland along the Great Lakes [23,101]. It has spread into abandoned fields and pastures in New England [101] and the upper Midwest during the past century. In the southeast it is found on isolated mountains [2].

This species grows on a variety of soil types including acidic and calcareous sands, loams, or marls [9]. It is tolerant of ultramafic soils [85]. In much of Europe common juniper is restricted to well-aerated soils somewhat deficient in both nitrogen and phosphorus. Growth on different soil types is rated as follows [32]:

gravel:  fair to poor           organics:  fair to poor
sand:  fair to good             acidic:  fair
sandy-loam:  good               saline:  fair to poor
loam:  good                     sodic:  poor
clay loam:  fair to poor        sodic-saline:  poor
clay:  fair to poor
dense clay:  poor
The following elevational ranges have been reported for common juniper [54,136]:

6,230 to 11,148 feet (1900-3400 m) in CA
4,500 to 9,000 feet (1373-2745 m) in MT
5,295 to 11,065 feet (1615-3375 m) in UT
6,000 to 11,300 feet (1830-3955 m) in WY

Juniperus communis var. depressa grows in crevices in heath mats in Michigan and on nutrient-poor open habitats such as sand dunes or rocky outcrops in the Canadian subarctic [22,63].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:

Common juniper is intolerant of shade and is usually found in open environments [31]. Common juniper is often regarded as a colonizing plant but reaches maximum abundance on harsh, stressed environments in which competition is lacking [31,107]. Common juniper occurs as an important understory species in a number of climax communities within the southern Rocky Mountains including some Douglas-fir, subalpine fir, limber pine, Engelmann spruce, and blue spruce stands [6,91,122]. Common juniper becomes prominent in many high-elevation spruce-fir forests in Colorado as much as 100 years or more after fire or other disturbance [21]. In the boreal forest of eastern Canada, however, common juniper begins to decline after approximately 70 years after disturbance. On harsh open sites, it can persist for much longer which creates patchy habitats [31].

Common juniper is described as a seral species in common juniper/bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) communities of the southwestern Yukon where it is ultimately replaced by spruce (Picea spp.) and buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) [34]. In Arizona and Colorado, common juniper is prominent in seral stands with Oregon-grape [36] and in the northern Rocky Mountains, it occurs in late seral stands in Douglas-fir/ninebark (Physocarpos malvaceus) and Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum) habitat types [121]. It is prominent in old-field or "early settlement" communities of New England, but it "disappears" from areas maintained in timber [39,40]. In pitch pine (Pinus rigida) communities of New England, common juniper replaces initial colonizers such as lichens, blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), and grasses, and is in turn, replaced later in succession by pitch pine [87]. In black spruce communities of northern Saskatchewan, common juniper is most prevalent in secondary successional stages occurring from 11 to 30 years after disturbance [113]. In Michigan, common juniper is a colonizer on dune blowouts [96].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Common juniper begins leader elongation in the spring. "Flowering" or cone development dates vary somewhat according to geographic location, but cone development generally occurs from April through June [47,56,66]. Generalized cone development dates by state are as follows [32]:

State          Beginning     End of
               cone          cone
               development   development
Montana        April         May
North Dakota   April         May
Wyoming        April         May
Strobili form during June or July, and these structures fuse, generally during the 2nd year, to produce a berrylike cone [123]. Cones ripens from August through October of the 2nd or, more rarely, 3rd year. Cones generally remain on the plant for at least 2 years [66], with dispersal occurring in August of the second season [126]. In the Canadian subarctic, cones are initiated in autumn and open the following year when pollination occurs. Male strobili are shed while the female cones are enlarging and fertilization occurs during the 2nd year. Seeds mature during the 3rd year [63].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:

Common juniper is generally described as "susceptible" to fire [25,59]. It is described as being "not equipped with fire-surviving regeneration properties" [81]. Foliage is resinous and very flammable [31]. The degree of damage received increases with progressively greater fire severity. In eastern Canada, older common juniper often survive fires of low severity. Some fire regimes allow common juniper to survive several fires [31].

Where common juniper is killed by fire, some seeds may survive in the soil on-site and germinate when conditions become favorable. Other seed is brought to the site by bird [25] or, less commonly, mammal dispersers. These factors contribute to slow postfire reestablishment on many sites.

For information on fire regimes in forest and woodland communities where common juniper occurs, see the FEIS species summaries on dominant tree species including:

species                        fire return interval 
interior ponderosa pine        2-45 years 
  (P. ponderosa var. scopulorum) 
Rocky Mountain juniper  
(  J. scopulorum) 
lodgepole pine                 25-300 years
  (P. contorta)
quaking aspen
  (Populus tremuloides)
big sagebrush
  (Artemisia tridentata)
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:


Tree without adventitious bud/root crown
Shrub without adventitious bud/root crown
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


Species Index
FEIS Home

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:

Common juniper is generally killed or seriously damaged by fire [24,25]. Patchy fires may allow individual plants to survive in protected areas such as on rocky cliffs. More rarely, portions of a lightly-burned plant may survive. The amount of damage this species incurs increases with increasing fire severity [120].

In the boreal forest of Quebec, at least 37% of common junipers survived fire. Although the dominant fire regime here is crown fires or "important surface fires covering large areas," common juniper often survives on sites made up of exposed bedrock or where protected by lakes and island complexes. Survival can occur if fire affects only part of an area or where fires are of low intensity. In some cases, fires of low intensity "can allow sections of the plant to survive and reproduce vegetatively" [31].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:

In a Scottish study, common juniper was killed by 1,472 oF (800 oC) heat treatment when heath was burned. Plants made only "feeble regrowth" when burned at 1,112 oF (600 oC). However, following treatment at 752 oF (400 oC), new shoots were produced [82].

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:

Common juniper does not sprout after disturbance. Surviving individuals serve as sources of seed for adjacent areas. Postfire regeneration is more frequent in proximity to existing populations of common junipers [31]. Regrowth can generally take place after fire if some of the basal branches remain alive [82], which only occurs in fires of low severity or where spread is patchy.

Common juniper also reestablishes after fire through off-site seed dispersed by birds or mammals. Poor seed dispersal from existing stands along with low germination rates can explain why some favorable sites are not readily occupied by common juniper [31].

It is possible that seed protected by overlying soil can survive at least some fires. After low-severity fires, some seed may germinate. However, Mallik and Gimingham [82] observed that high temperatures did not increase germination in common juniper seed and little seed germinated after fire.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:

Following "light" (less than 50% litter reduction) fires in forested areas of western Montana, burned sites often exhibit minimal shrub damage and have at least some surviving common juniper [120]. Common juniper averaged 6.7% cover 3 years after a light burn in Montana [120]. Laboratory heating experiments on common juniper plants from Scottish heath showed that growth could take place after heating only if some of the basal green branches remain alive [82]:

effect of temperature* on vegetative regrowth after heating
                               400oC   600oC   800oC
mean # sprouts per plant
3 months after treatment        5        4       0

height of veg. regrowth (cm)
17 months after treatment       8        6       0

oven-dry biomass per plant of
veg. regrowth (grams)           3      0.8       0
17 months after treatment 

*"temperature maintained for about 2 minutes"
Most fires kill common juniper [25], leading to the slow postfire recovery typical of this species. In northern Canada, common juniper is generally absent from burned areas, but may grow in small refugia within burned areas [69].

Postfire recovery of common juniper is generally slow. The following table gives the density and frequency of occurrence for common juniper in stands of different ages in 2 Colorado forest types [21]:

--------------------------------------------------
Stand    Spruce   Freq.   Stand  Lodgepole  Freq.
age      -fir             age    density
after    density          after
fire                      fire       
--------------------------------------------------
  1      ---        ---     1     ---       ---
  2      ---        ---     2     ---       ---
  8      ---        ---     8     ---       ---
  8      0.2         20     8     ---       ---
 18      0.2         20    18     0.2       20
 74      2.7         70    18     0.8       20
200      0.2          8    18     0.4       20
280      0.6         40    45     0.8       40        
290      0.4         20    85     2.0      100 
                           85     0.8       60
                          108     0.6       60
                          115     0.4       40
                          190     1.4       60 
                          248     0.8       20
                          251     1.3       30 
                          257     3.4       85 
-------------------------------------------------
For further information on prescribed fire use and common juniper's response to fire, see Fire Case Studies.

The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species including common juniper:

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

In a north-central Colorado study of fire behavior in quaking aspen stands, common juniper patches burned more intensely and released more heat than adjacent herbaceous areas. A caloric analysis of 5 foliage samples yielded an average low heat content of 5064 kcal/kg. Common juniper fuels tended to be deeper and heavier than herbaceous fuels and flames were longer and deeper in common juniper patches. Fire removed almost all litter, standing herbs, and common juniper foliage, leaving only bare branches. The moisture of green common juniper foliage averaged 112% of oven dry weight on 2 burns [117]. Fuel loading for common juniper can be estimated as follows:

branch load (kg/m2) = .000191* crown height above duff
(cm) ** 2.135

foliage load (kg)   = 6.456* crown volume (m3) ** 1.93
In xeric red pine (Pinus resinosa) communities of northern Canada, an understory of low sweet blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), lichen, and common juniper creates a low and discontinuous fuel load. Fires in these communities tend to have an irregular pattern of intensity that is largely dependent on the distribution of fine fuels. Intense crown fires are unlikely here [11].

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Juniperus communis
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION:

Tirmenstein, D. 1999., compiler. Common juniper effect on fire behavior in a quaking aspen community on Colorado's Front Range. In: Juniperus communis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [ ].

REFERENCES:

Smith, Jane K.; Laven, Richard D.; Omi, Philip N. 1985. Vegetation changes in aspen stands resulting from prescribed burning in recreation areas of the Front Range of Colorado. Final Report. Contract Nos. RM-80-112-GR and RM-81-162-GR (EC-367): Eisenhower Consortium for Western Environmental Forestry Research. 53 p. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [116].

Smith, Jane Kapler; Laven, Richard D.; Omi, Philip N. 1993. Microplot sampling of fire behavior on Populus tremuloides stands in north-central Colorado. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 3(2): 85-94. [117].

SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION:

fall/low

STUDY LOCATION:

Miner's Road and Swamp Creek sites were located in north-central Colorado.

PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY:

Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) communities were characterized by an understory of herbaceous vegetation and common juniper (Juniperus communis). Common herbaceous species included western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), sedges (Carex spp.), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis, strawberry (Fragaria ovalis), northern bedstraw (Galium boreale), Letterman needlegrass (Achnatherum lettermanii), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and mountain thermopsis (Thermopsis divaricarpa).

PLANT SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE:

Herbaceous vegetation was cured. Quaking aspen leaves had fallen.

SITE DESCRIPTION:

Weather conditions were described as follows:

site   dry bulb relative  wind    wind       10-hr fuel
       (oC)     humidity  speed   direction  moisture
               (%)        (km/hr)            (%)
MR1     12      25        10      SE         10.5
MR2     11      33         4      SE         10.5
MR3     13      23         7      W          10.6
SC2     17      15         3      SW          9.6
Common juniper clumps covered 20 to 22% of the area on each study site. Preburn fuels measured on 1 m2 plots covered only with common juniper were as follows [117]:
                          MR1-2          MR3
fuel depth (cm)           32(+/-7)       46(+/-10)
duff load (kg/m2)         3.52(+/-1.13)  3.01(+/-1.28)
fine fuel load (kg/m2)*   1.01(+/-0.53)  1.54(+/-0.54)
down woody fuels (kg/m2)  1.06(+/-1.53)  1.88(+/-2.82)
*mainly common juniper foliage
FIRE DESCRIPTION:
Site Name (abbreviation)  Burn Date         Ignition time
Miner's Road 1 (MR1)      October 19, 1981  14:35  MST
Miner's Road 2 (MR2)      October 19, 1981  15:27  MST
Miner's Road 3 (MR3)      November 4, 1981  12:00  MST
Swamp Creek (SC2)         November 17, 1981 13:00  MST

Burn severity varied by plot.

site   % of sample   median   estimated %
       plots burned  fraction of site
                     burned   burned
MR1     67           0.55     37
MR2     60           0.30     18
MR3    100           0.99     99
SC2    100           0.90     90 
Less than one half of MR1 and MR2 burned. Nearly all of MR3 and SC2 burned.

Fire behavior was more severe in juniper clumps than in herbaceous vegetation. Fire behavior measured over the entire burns, with both common juniper and herbaceous cover, was as follows:

                             min.   max.     estimated mean            
Fire behavior    
rate of spread (m/min)       0.4    4.0      1.3
flame length (cm)            10.2   152.4    43.4
flaming zone depth (cm)      5.1    152.44   42.4
total heat release(kcal/m2)  1491   19544    6326
      
Fire behavior measured only in common juniper clumps was as follows:
average                    MR1-2          MR3
flame length*              86             62
flaming zone depth*        45             44
total heat release*        8300(+/-4326)  14021(+/-3420)  
*significantly greater than on plots with herbaceous cover
FIRE EFFECTS ON PLANT SPECIES:

Juniper was killed by fire.

FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS:

Flames were longer in juniper than in herbaceous cover and more fuel was consumed on juniper plots. Burned out juniper plots produced more aspen suckers than corresponding herbaceous plots. More heat may have penetrated the soil in juniper areas. Irradiance increases were especially noticeable in areas were juniper clumps had burned.


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